Engineering & Mining Journal

MAY 2019

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UNDERGROUND MINING MAY 2019 • E&MJ 45 www.e-mj.com Muck-a-what? The term Muckahi (pronounced muk ǝ hī) can be traced to nickel miners work- ing for Inco in the Sudbury region. Prior to his career with Torex, Stanford had a 30-plus-year career with Vale Canada (formerly Inco), which culminated with him as president of Vale's Ontario oper- ations. When Stanford broke the meeting at the Creighton safety station, the min- ers would let go with a Muckahi cheer. At MINExpo 2016, Stanford met with Rennie, the founder and owner of Medatech. Stanford had discussed his ideas for mining large, difficult orebod- ies with some larger engineering firms. Even though some preliminary engi- neering work had been completed, he wasn't happy with the plans that had been developed. Stanford was looking for someone who could understand his ideas from a physics perspective and work with him on this concept. Rennie accepted the challenge. Working one-on-one, they developed the strategy. "His original thinking was a very fluid concept," Rennie recalled. "We finally settled on the overhead monorail, mobile conveyor concept that provided some of the principles that he had to have, such as two-way traffic in a 4-m-wide heading." After the basic concept work was completed, which took about six months, Rennie turned it over to his team of engineers at Meda- tech. They advanced the ideas into full, working models. "Ultimately, what we ended up with was a face jumbo, a working platform and a mucking system," Rennie said. Torex selected a U.S. company to de- velop a flexible conveyor system. We are not conveyor people, Rennie ex- plained, and that decision simply made more sense. Once the engineering drawings of the concept were completed, Medatech moved into manufacturing, producing prototypes. "None of this is rocket sci- ence, but none of these concepts had been built before," Rennie said. "Even though it hangs from an overhead rail, the drill jumbo, for example, has an Atlas Copco boom and extendable feed. There were some tricky parts when it came to packaging the system and the frame." Two years after that initial conversation at MINExpo 2016, Medatech shipped the face jumbo to the ELG mining com- plex where Stanford and his team had constructed an underground test facility for the system. More recently, Medatech shipped the Muckahi service platform, the second major piece of equipment. The third component, the mucking sys- tem, is currently being assembled on the shop floor. They were hoping to ship that to the mine by the end of May. The Muckahi drilling system is an- chored to the back using a stabilizer system to maintain the feed pressure on the drill string. "It's basically a set of upside-down outriggers," Rennie said. "It counteracts the moments that are created when the drill penetrates the face or the boom swings to one side." Before the blast is detonated, the drills are pulled back a safe distance from the face. The rail itself will survive the blast. The trial has been a learning experi- ence for the miners. The one hiccup the operators encountered was an interfer- ence with the stabilizers as they passed through the switch. Similar to conven- tional track haulage, the monorail uses a switch to maneuver equipment from one side of the heading to the other. When the two systems are compared side-by-side, it's easy to see how short, steep decline tunnels reduce the amount of development work to access the orebody.

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